Square Wave

Mark de Silva. Two Dollar Radio (Consortium, dist.), $16.99 trade paper (376p) ISBN 978-1-937512-39-2
The novel of ideas is alive and well in de Silva’s high-minded debut, in which the pursuit of art, the exercise of power, and climate control are strangely entwined. Carl Stagg is a writer working on a history of the Dutch-Portuguese War, which shaped 17th-century Sri Lanka, hoping to understand the echelons of power—which he encounters firsthand when he finds a beaten prostitute and becomes obsessed with finding who assaulted her. He is joined by Ravan, a guitarist whose family works in weather modification, and whose experiments are nearing a breakthrough that could have catastrophic consequences. Other key figures include Lewis, a painter whose violent tendencies quickly put him in over his head in Las Vegas’s pornographic underworld, and Larent, a trained musician beginning to hear something more than music behind his band’s harmonies. These tangents are all somehow linked to the Wintry Institute, “dedicated only to strengthening political literacy,” but perhaps influencing the expanding chaos behind the scenes. This is a heavily theoretical work, with ruminations on music theory, lectures on the evolution of social disharmony, and long academic conversations between political theorists—and yet, set against the backdrop of a crumbling America, this novel functions as a thriller where the confusions and obsessions of students are freighted with the dark reality they begin to uncover. De Silva isn’t shy about his intelligence, and he shouldn’t be; Square Wave is an intellectual tussle many readers will be happy to grapple with. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 350 pages - 978-1-937512-38-5
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